Price of fuel 'to remain high for a while to come' warns Boris Johnson

ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman brings us the latest on the fuel price hike.

The prime minister has warned the cost of fuel is set to "remain high for a while to come" as the average cost of filling a typical family car passed the £100 mark for the first time.

In a speech in Blackpool, Boris Johnson acknowledged the squeeze on household finances but insisted the country was better-placed than in previous economic crises.

Mr Johnson placed the blame for the price rise, and the general soaring cost of living, on "the aftermath of the worst pandemic for a century" and "global pressures... caused by the lingering effects of Covid and the shock of (Vladimir) Putin’s aggression in Ukraine."

The PM claimed the government is "firmly on your side" in cutting living costs, but critics have pointed to the fact the government takes 30p in VAT from every litre of fuel sold - up from 25p before the Russian invasion and on top of the 53p fuel duty per litre.

PM says prices at the pump will remain high but does not rule out further cut to fuel duty

Earlier on Thursday, RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the average price of petrol crossing the “thoroughly depressing threshold of £100 a tank” marked a “a truly dark day” for drivers.

Figures from data firm Experian Catalist show the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts reached a record 182.3p on Wednesday.

That was an increase of 1.6p compared with Tuesday, taking the average cost of filling a 55-litre family car to £100.27.

The average price of a litre of diesel on Wednesday was 188.1p.

Some forecourts are already selling petrol and diesel above £2 per litre.

Mr Williams added: “There’s almost certainly going to be upward inflationary pressure, which is bad news for everybody.

“While fuel prices have been setting new records on a daily basis, households up and down the country may never have expected to see the cost of filling an average-sized family car reach three figures."

The RAC spokesman added that many people will now be hoping for further financial support from the government.

Especially as the 5p per litre cut in fuel duty introduced by Rishi Sunak a few short weeks ago "looks paltry" in the face of wholesale petrol costs which have rise five times that amount since March.

Research conducted by the car services firm suggests that as many as eight-in-10 people depending on their cars will be hoping for government intervention.

Mr Williams continued: “It’s also important to remember that the government is still benefitting from the high fuel prices by taking around 30p in VAT from every litre sold.

“This compares to just 25p before Russia invaded Ukraine. On top of this the government is still collecting 53p fuel duty from every litre.

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“Other price records were also unfortunately set on Wednesday as the average of a litre of unleaded at a supermarket jumped 2.5p to 175.91p while diesel increased by nearly 2p to 184.13p.

“As we expected, other supermarkets raised their prices yesterday in line with the increases made by Asda.”

The AA is calling for a further 10p-per-litre cut in fuel duty and the introduction of a “fuel price stabiliser” which would see the rate lowered when prices rise, and increased when prices drop.

The firm’s president Edmund King said: “Enough is enough. The Government must act urgently to reduce the record fuel prices which are crippling the lives of those on lower incomes, rural areas and businesses.

“A fuel price stabiliser is a fair means for the Treasury to help regulate the pump price, but alongside this they need to bring in more fuel price transparency to stop the daily rip-offs at the pumps.

“The £100 tank is not sustainable with the general cost-of-living crisis, so the underlying issues need to be addressed urgently.”

Pump prices began to soar after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February led to oil supply fears.

Downing Street indicated on Wednesday that fuel retailers failing to pass on the 5p duty cut could be named and shamed.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Transparency may have an important role to play.

“It is important the public understand what actions each of the fuel retailers are taking and so we are considering what further options we can take in this area.”